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Former Port Richey manager demands $90,000 payout

PORT RICHEY — Former City Manager Ellen Posivach has sent a strongly worded letter to city officials demanding her controversial $90,000 payout.

The amount comes from a mix of benefits — $33,856 in severance pay, $42,397 in vacation and sick time and $14,303 in compensatory time — spelled out in her contract.

"This entire situation, including the delay in complying with the terms of the contract, is continuing to cause me a series of significant hardships," Posivach wrote in the April 26 letter.

City Council fired Posivach in February, saying she had violated the city's charter by making expensive emergency equipment purchases without consulting the council. In the months leading up to her termination, Posivach also had come under fire for working from her Tarpon Springs home and taking expensive trips on the city's dime.

But the council, upon the advice of attorneys, has been silent since then and has not yet agreed to Posivach's payout.

In her latest letter, Posivach offered the city refuge from making one lump sum payment, saying she would allow biweekly payments until her contract has been fulfilled.

"I am continuing to try to handle these matters in a professional manner," she wrote. "I am hopeful that neither the taxpayers nor I will have to incur further legal costs to get a simple response to this matter. Every step of the way my intent has been to avoid acrimony."

Port Richey Mayor Richard Rober said the council is awaiting a legal review and response to the letter being crafted by the city's labor attorney, Erin Jackson of Tampa. Then the council likely would hold a vote on how to handle Posivach's contract, Rober said.

Jackson declined to comment on what her response to the letter might be or when it will be completed. But just days after Posivach's firing, then-city attorney Michael Brannigan said he saw no way for Port Richey to avoid paying Posivach the full amount outlined in her contract.

That contract remains a sore subject for the council.

City leaders are negotiating to hire former New Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill as Port Richey's interim manager, and at its next regular meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on the wording of an advertisement that will begin the search for a permanent city manager.

Several council members said city manager candidates should not expect the kind of perks that made Posivach's contract so lucrative. The days of the "six-page contract" are over, Rober promised during the council's last meeting.

"I learned my lesson with the agreement we just came out of," he said.

Former Port Richey manager demands $90,000 payout 05/13/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 14, 2011 1:52pm]
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